Recently, early on a Saturday evening, I ran over something that punctured a tire. The tire went flat after we returned home. When Joyce noticed the tire was flat, it was too late to have it fixed. So I inflated the tire with "Fix-a-Flat." The tire held its pressure and looked fine. But I knew that I temporarily solved the problem.

Monday morning I took the tire to be repaired. It looked repaired when I took it. It held air pressure fine. It drove fine. But the problem was only temporarily corrected. I knew it needed an durable repair. That meant finding a place that would make the repair, taking the tire off the rim, locating the puncture, patching the puncture with durable material, and remounting the tire. That took time, and it was inconvenient.

I learned two interesting things about the quick fix for flat tires. First, "Fix-a-Flat" makes it very hard to find the puncture because it temporarily seals the hole. Second, the puncture was located by washing the inside of the tire with water. Water dissolves the "Fix-a-Flat." If you wash it with water, the tire loses air pressure again.

What is the difference between a quick fix and an enduring solution? A quick fix meets the pressing need of the moment and temporarily controls the problem. An enduring solution corrects the situation by eliminating the problem.

  1. I need to make a preface statement to the thoughts that I want you to consider this evening.
    1. The problems facing us today in the church and in our society are complex problems composed of several different parts.
      1. Rarely does any problem have a simple solution.
      2. Often the solutions that sound simple create new problems as they solve old problems.
      3. Consider an illustration.
        1. Back in the late 1960s and early 1970s the United States had a huge grain surplus and our grain storage facilities were full.
          1. Farmers growing grain crops could not sell their crops for enough money to cover the cost of production.
          2. The government proposed a solution:
            1. Instruct all the farmers to grow no grain for one year.
            2. Take the surplus grain already in storage and sell it on the world market.
            3. Use the funds from the grain sales to pay the farmers for what they would have made had they grown their crops.
            4. Return to normal production in the following year.
        2. When I first heard that proposal, it sounded sensible.
        3. But the solution would create enormous new problems.
          1. Of the many, let me use two.
          2. The seed industry informed the government that it could not survive a year with no seed sales.
          3. The fertilizer industry informed the government that it could not survive a year with no fertilizer sales.
          4. Those were just two of the primary industries that would experience disastrous effects if that solution was used.
    2. To form enduring solutions to problems in the church and in society, we must take many realities into consideration.
      1. Enduring solutions use multiple approaches to address all aspects of a problem.
      2. It is always dangerous to oversimplify the problem or the solution.
      3. What I am asking you to think about does not oppose using multiple approaches to address all the realities of a problem.

  2. The concept of "quick fixes" is very popular in our society today.
    1. Many reasons make quick fixes look very appealing.
      1. First, there is our view of time.
        1. Today, people value time more than they value money.
        2. We are fanatics when it comes to saving time.
      2. Second, there is our pace of life.
        1. Almost everyone is living too fast as we try to do too much.
        2. We are so over committed that most families do not average eating a meal a week together.
      3. Third, we are impatient.
        1. All of us are amazingly contradictory.
        2. We complain about the pace of life being too fast, and agree that everyone is too busy--"things need to slow down."
        3. But, we expect anything that affects us personally to happen immediately. Never put us on a waiting list!
      4. Fourth, we live in the age of technology.
        1. One of the justifications for technology is that it is faster.
        2. Faster is good because faster is more profitable.
    2. Our commitment to quick fixes easily transports itself from the "every day, real world" problems to religious and moral problems.
      1. Relationship problems in our society are enormous in number and overwhelming in consequences.
        1. People just do not know how to relate to people.
        2. We demand a quick fix to relationship problems.
      2. Marriage problems are devastating to homes, to spouses, and to children.
        1. Troubled marriages and divorce causes enormous suffering in our nation.
        2. We demand a quick fix to divorce problems.
      3. The fabric of our society is being unraveled by:
        1. Angry people.
        2. Dishonest people.
        3. Greedy people.
        4. Selfish people.
        5. Irresponsible people.
        6. Lawless people.
        7. Self-indulgent people.
        8. "We must do something about what is happening in our society--NOW! It must happen, and it must happen fast!" Is that the way you feel?
      4. Our society is undergoing a visible transformation because of the moral problems in our nation.
        1. The problems created by sexual immorality are devastating to every level of human relationship.
        2. The loss of character is devastating.
        3. The loss of integrity is devastating.
        4. The loss of honor is devastating.
        5. The loss of truthfulness is devastating.
        6. And we want things to turn around immediately.
    3. In our "every day world," the quick fix is the ideal solution, the solution of choice.
      1. For our moral ills, the quick fix is seen as the ideal solution.
      2. For our religious ills, the quick fix is seen as the ideal solution.
      3. For our relationship ills, the quick fix is seen as the ideal solution.
    4. Why? Why are we so convinced that a solution designed to meet the pressing needs of the moment is the desirable, ideal solution?
      1. Because we are afraid.
        1. We are afraid of our changing world.
        2. We are afraid of the directions that we see our society moving.
        3. We are afraid of present consequences and future consequences.
        4. We are afraid of uncertainty.
      2. Because we feel things are out of control.
        1. We are tempted to believe that control in and of itself is good and will produce good.
        2. We live under the illusion that we came from a past that was under control--which is simply not so. Do you remember the cold war and the fear of the atomic bomb?
        3. We desperately want to feel that things are under control.
      3. Because we want to preserve our values and put them in control.
        1. The values that we want to preserve probably were never in control.
        2. They were ideals that appeared to be in control.
        3. But, as ideals, they were more commonly accepted in the past.

  3. That leads to an interesting question: is Christianity a "quick fix" religion?
    1. Through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ, Christianity provides an immediate solution for the sins of the individual.
      1. It destroys the past and current guilt of the believer who comes to Christ by providing him or her forgiveness.
        1. The greatest sin that has ever been committed was the execution of God's son.
        2. Peter told the people who called for Jesus' death that even they could receive the remission of sin (Acts 2:38).
      2. Because forgiveness destroys the sin, guilt is destroyed.
        1. God does not remember forgiven sins (Hebrews 8:12).
        2. The objective of forgiveness in Christ is to remove the consciousness of sin (Hebrews 10:3,4,16-18).
      3. Forgiveness brings the person into full relationship with God, and in that new relationship forgiveness is a continuing reality.
    2. But this just begins relationship with God.
      1. This is just the beginning of new life in Christ.
      2. This is just the process of being born.
      3. This just produces a spiritual infant; at this moment the person is a spiritual infant regardless of his chronological age.
    3. From that moment forward, the person must be spiritually growing, developing, and maturing in Christ.
      1. Maturing in Christ is a slow process that involves time, experience, and learning.
      2. Spiritual maturity is not a "quick fix" reality.
    4. Christianity is an enduring solution, but it is not a quick fix solution.
      1. It is impossible for a person to go from spiritual infancy to spiritual maturity quickly.
      2. Just as a child cannot reach adult life without living through the years of adolescence, neither can a Christian reach spiritual maturity without going through spiritual adolescence.
    5. Carefully think that through.
      1. If it takes time for a Christian to achieve spiritual maturity, is it not evident that it will take more time for a person who has not yet come to faith in Christ?
      2. Is it not evident that we are searching for the impossible when we want to find a quick way to either convince or to force people who do not believe in Jesus Christ to live under the values of a spiritually mature Christian?
      3. Do we expect to convince people who are not Christians to learn to live by Christian values quickly when it takes years to develop that life in Christians?

  4. What is our message to Fort Smith? What is our message to this nation?
    1. Is our message this: we don't care what you think, or what you want, or what you feel, or what you believe about God and Christ--even if you don't believe, we want you to live by our values and our principles.
      1. Is that really our goal?
      2. Is that our mission as people who believe in and belong to Jesus Christ?
    2. Do you realize that if we do not change minds, if we do not change hearts, if we do not bring people to faith in Christ, we have changed nothing.
      1. Let me use one illustration.
      2. I do not support or believe in abortion for many reasons.
      3. But let's assume that by law we could make it impossible to get an abortion.
      4. Even though we place our convictions in control, have we changed people?
        1. The people who believe abortion is right and good will still believe that.
        2. The people who want abortions will still want them--even if they can't get them.
        3. The children born to mothers who were forced to have them will not miraculously enter loving families who nurture them as persons of value and importance.
        4. If all that we do is impose control, what will we accomplish spiritually?
    3. Someone asks, "Well, David, do you advocate we legalize abortion and stop opposing it?"
      1. Of course not; that is the reason I began with my preface statement.
      2. That certainly is not my point.
      3. This is what I am saying: if Christians believe that antiabortion laws are a quick fix to this major spiritual problem, we have forgotten who we are and what we are about.

The changes we seek in the hearts, minds, and lives of people are faith changes that change the person, that change his or her view of the world, that change a person's understanding of the purpose of existing, and that change people's view of people.

We want people to come to a Savior, to turn to God, and to be transformed. Our mission is not to control them; it is to bring them to Christ. We do not seek to alter society by controlling it; we seek to alter society by bringing people to faith in God.

And that is not and never will be a quick fix solution. That is an enduring solution. Only enduring solutions that change the hearts and minds of people will redirect our society.

Have you allowed Jesus Christ to change your mind, your heart, and your life? Has He redirected your focus?
Bring faith and repentance, and be born again into Christ through baptism.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Evening Sermon, 3 May 1998

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